Some of you learn gymnastics at school. Did you know that there is an ancient Indian form of gymnastics? I want to share information with you about Mallakhamba, or Indian gymnastics. This term is compounded of two words: Malla, meaning wrestling and Khamba, meaning pole. Indian wrestlers practised mallakhamba to maintain fitness and agility.
The earliest reference to mallakhamba is found in a book called Manasollasa written by Somesvara Chalukya in 1135 AD.
This means that even before the 12th century CE, mallakhamba must have been practised by wrestlers, starting from the origins of wrestling in India. Did you read about how Krishna and Balarama defeated King Kamsa’s wrestlers? Who knows? Legendary as well as historical Indian heroes and kings may have practised mallakhamba. Doesn’t that sound interesting?
The traditional form of mallakhamba was practiced in medieval Maharashtra and Hyderabad. In the 18th century, Balambhattdada Deodhar, the fitness instructor of Peshwa Baji Rao II revived and modernised mallakhamba as it is practised today.
In India, today, there are mallakhamba competitions based on three of its forms:
- Fixed or pole mallakhamba
- Hanging mallakhamba (pole suspended by hooks and chains)
- Rope mallakhamba
See this short video on the three main forms of mallakhamba:
Note: Do not try any of these gymnastics without supervision by your gymnastics coach, or you may fall and injure yourself.
If you are really interested, by now then here is the history of mallakhamba in three short videos. Note the pictures of female gymnasts in the earliest paintings of mallakhamba:
The second video also gives you the basic steps for beginners, some of them mere toddlers. At an age when children learn to walk, these babies are learning gymnastic feats of balance and muscular coordination:
For those who are really hooked into Indian gymnastics, here is the final video, with different forms of mallakhamba. This has highly advanced forms of the art, especially Hathiyari (weapons) and Deep (lamp) Mallakhamba:
So, did you enjoy acquiring more online information? I hope this post will inspire some of our budding gymnasts and their coach to take physical fitness to a new level!
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